Mulk Raj Anand was an Indian English language author, who depicted the lives of the poorer castes in traditional Indian society. Born in Peshawar, he studied in Amritsar, before moving to England where he attended University College London as an undergraduate and later Cambridge University, graduating with a PhD in 1929. He spent some time in Geneva, lecturing at the League of Nations' School of Intellectual Cooperation. Anand's literary career was launched by family tragedy, instigated by the rigidity of the caste system. His first prose essay was a response to the suicide of an aunt, who had been excommunicated by his family for sharing a meal with a Muslim. His first main novel, 'Untouchable', published in 1935, was a chilling exposť of the day-to-day life of a member of India's untouchable caste.
Inevitably, Anand, who spent half his time in London and half in India, was drawn to the Indian independence movement. At the same time, he also supported freedom elsewhere around the globe and even travelled to Spain to volunteer in the Spanish Civil War. He spent World War II working as a scriptwriter for the BBC in London, where he became a friend of George Orwell. Anand returned to India in 1946, and continued with his prodigious literary output there. His work includes poetry and essay on a wide range of subjects, as well as autobiographies and novels. Prominent among his novels are The Village (1939), Across the Black Waters (1940), The Sword and the Sickle (1942), all written in England, and The Private Life of an Indian Prince (1953), perhaps the most important of his works written in India. He also founded a literary magazine, Marg, and taught in various universities. His later works, including the novel Private Life of an Indian Prince, were more autobiographical in nature, and in 1950 Anand embarked on a project to write a seven-part autobiography, beginning with Seven Summers. One part, Morning Face (1968) won him the National Academy Award. Like much of his later work, it contains elements of his spiritual journey as he struggles to attain a higher sense of self-awareness. He died in Pune.